Courmayeur is a chic ski resort on the sunny side of Mont Blanc with old churches, cobbled streets, lovely restaurants and spectacular views. Its pistes are few in number and gentle in gradient, but the off-piste accessed from its high lifts is superb.

Courmayeur’s small network of pistes is almost entirely composed of easy blue and gentle red runs with no shortage of wonderful views; this after all is the sunny side of Mont Blanc, or “Monte Bianco” as it’s known in these parts. And you can follow the sun by starting in the morning on the open bowls of the east facing Checrouit sector and finishing in the afternoon in the west-facing woods above Val Veny.

There are far fewer pistes however, than what you might expect for a famous ski resort. Although Courmayeur claims over 100kms of runs, less than half are groomed pistes, and that is unlikely to be enough for keen skiers who don’t want to explore off-piste, and who are here for a full week. (Short transfers from Geneva airport make Courmayeur a popular ski-weekend destination.) All is not lost for determined piste skiers who are here for longer though, because La Thuile has more runs and is less than half an hour away, with a good ski bus link and lift pass sharing arrangement. Chamonix (30 mins) and Pila (40 mins) are also within driving distance but are trickier to reach by public transport.

But rather than leaving Courmayeur, confident skiers should try leaving the piste instead, in the company of a guide. Whilst some of Courmayeur’s off-piste descents will challenge an expert, like crossing the Toula Glacier, there are gentle ones for ‘first time freeriders’, including the famous, 24km long, Vallée Blanche down to Chamonix in France. This is accessed from 3466m high Punta Helbronner, reached via the Skyway lift in Entreves, about a 10 minute bus ride from Courmayeur centre. Long itineraries are also possible from the top of the main skiing area at Cresta d’Arp at 2755m, from where you can ski almost all the way to La Thuile in good conditions. And for a special treat, Courmayeur has good heliskiing too.

Skiing however, is only part of Courmayeur’s appeal. Its mountain restaurants are not only plentiful, they represent everything that is great about eating in Italy: hot chocolate so thick that you have to finish it with a spoon, risottos with shavings of truffles, succulent fresh pasta, lavish spreads of home-made desserts and south-facing sun terraces full of Italians enjoying La Dolce Vita. And Courmayeur is also a charming old town with narrow streets, old stone churches, the best designer shopping in the Aosta Valley, and plenty of lively bars and stylish restaurants.

So can a ski resort located at just 1225m with less than 50kms of piste and no tough black runs, really be one of Europe’s best ski resorts? If Courmayeur did not happen to back onto Western Europe’s highest mountain, perhaps not. But with this setting, and its enormous freeride potential, the answer is an emphatic ‘yes’.

Courmayeur Pros & Cons

+ Fantastic off-piste
+ Atmospheric, charming town
+ Excellent mountain restaurants
+ Fun but stylish apres ski
+ Easy to reach from Geneva or Turin so good for weekends

– Not enough pistes and no tough ones
– Inconvenient: no slope-side accommodation
– Weekend crowds
– Strong skiers will need to hire a guide which is costly


Courmayeur Resort Stats

Base: 1224 m
Peak: 2624 m
Vertical: 1400 m
Ski Area: 36 km
Longest Run: 3 km
Beginner: 28 %
Intermediate: 61 %
Advanced: 11 %
Number of ski lifts: 18
Lift Capacity: 25209
Nearest Airport: Geneva
Transfer Time: 1 hour 30 mins

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Courmayeur Resort Ratings

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Total Ratings = 11

Ratings sum = 38

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